We know that eggs are a great source of protein, but have you ever looked at the nutrition information printed on the cartoon? In addition to 6.5 grams of protein, eggs contain a sobering 213 mg of cholesterol. That’s about 71% of the recommended daily cholesterol intake for a healthy individual.
So does that mean we should avoid eating eggs? Probably not.
The impact of dietary cholesterol (i.e., the cholesterol we eat) has a fairly small impact on the cholesterol in our blood. Some people with high cholesterol diets have low blood cholesterol, and some people with low cholesterol diets have high blood cholesterol.
In a study by cholesterol researcher Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, the consumption of 2-3 eggs per day was found to have little or no impact on blood cholesterol levels in 2/3 of participants.
For the other 1/3 of participants, blood cholesterol levels did rise. But the levels of so-called “good” cholesterol increased in proportion to the levels of “bad” cholesterol, so the ratio of good to bad cholesterol stayed the same. This ratio of good to bad cholesterol is considered a better indicator of the risk of heart disease than overall cholesterol concentrations.
Moreover, it seems that in the 1/3 of participants with an increase in cholesterol levels, the cholesterol particles became more bigger and not more numerous. When measuring cholesterol levels in laboratories, it’s done by weight. The researchers from this study believe that the increase in weight wasn’t because there were more cholesterol particles, but just that the existing particles became larger. And larger cholesterol particles are less likely to get stuck in arteries and cause heart disease.
So what does it all mean?
If you already have cardiovascular disease, a poor diet that is high in saturated fat, diabetes or high blood cholesterol levels, it’s probably a good idea to avoid eggs or to consume them sparingly. For healthy individuals, consuming eggs as part of a balanced diet is perfectly acceptable – just don’t go overboard. And, since the cholesterol and saturated fat from eggs is contained primarily in the yolk, egg whites are a great alternative – and they still provide just over half of the egg’s protein.
That should be egg-cellent news for egg lovers.